It’s been 16 years now since I was diagnosed with a Deep Vein Thrombosis and a Pulmonary Embolism, DVT and PE. I had just given birth in December 2000. It was a fairly difficult labor, but the aftermath was wonderful. My baby was here and I couldn’t have been happier! I had returned to work late February 2001 and everything was going well. In March, I slid down my stairs and stopped myself by jamming my foot on the door frame at the bottom of the steps. I broke a few toes and had to go to one of those express medical facilities. With a four-month-old, going to the ER was out of the question. Too long of a wait!
We got there and the Dr stitched me up and gave me a tetanus shot. I had to go back a week later because nothing had improved. He said that I may have done damage to my hamstring and to keep my leg still. WORST MISTAKE EVER. A few weeks later, I was finally able to move around and I was getting winded easily. I was in a store getting something and the cashier asked me when I was due. I hadn’t lost my belly and being winded? It was a logical question. I ended up going to my Dr and she told me to go to the ER. My leg was swollen and cool to the touch.
I went and got scanned. I had a DVT from my mid-calf to mid-thigh. The sucker was huge! Because it was above my knee, they admitted me to the hospital and hooked me up to an IV of heparin. They assured me that I most likely didn’t have a PE. A day or so later, I was still in the hospital. My husband at that time was there with our baby. I overheard the nurse saying there was a misread of my results. I called her in and asked what she meant. She advised that since she was a nurse, she wasn’t allowed to discuss the results. Only the Dr could do that. I demanded that they get the Dr in immediately.
I wasn’t trying to be difficult, but I had remembered the Dr saying, if there was a PE, I would have less than a five percent chance of surviving it. No way was I playing around. I wanted answers and I wanted them immediately. The Dr came in about half an hour later and confirmed that I did have a DVT and PE. This combination is dangerous. Research showed that having a DVT and PE had a higher death rate than breast cancer and AIDs combined. Side note: I have always had an irrational fear of death. But when I was faced with my mortality at that time? My first fear was my baby growing up without a mom.
So, not such a spoiler alert. I survived, beat the odds and made it home. I was no longer allowed on birth control pills since blood clots are a known side effect.
Seven years later, in 2008, I was divorced and had started another relationship. I reached out to my Dr about going back on birth control. We ran all the tests and my numbers came back clear. I didn’t have the marker for clots. So the one in 2001 was trauma induced. I went back on the pill. A few months later, I flew to California to visit a friend. This was something already planned before going back on the pill. So, I did all the right things. I got up every hour and walked up and down the aisle. I stood back where the flight attendants were and did calf raises and moved my legs. In my seat, I was constantly rotating my ankle. I wore very loose clothing and drank a lot of water.
A week after I got home, I felt a pain in the back of my knee. Where you bend your leg. I waited a day and it still didn’t go away. Even with aleve. So, I wasn’t taking any chances. I called my Dr and sure enough, she told me not to bother coming into her office. Go straight to the ER. They did a scan and yep. ANOTHER DVT. This one was caught early and didn’t progress to a PE. They didn’t keep me in the hospital but gave me needles to inject into my belly area for two weeks before going back on Coumadin (Warfarin). I do NOT like needles. Having to give them to myself? An absolute nightmare.
Obviously, removed from the pill. There were no other causes, so that was the logical course of action. I was on blood thinners for a couple years that time. Now, when I travel, I start taking baby aspirin a week before I fly, during the time I am on vacation or business trip and a week after. I never got into wearing Compression Socks, but I know that I need to! So up to three weeks, I take the baby aspirin daily. I haven’t had an issue with another DVT and PE since. When I travel by car, I take a Resistance Band to work my legs and keep them moving when I’m in the passenger seat.
My blood tests still come out clear, showing that I do not have the marker for blood clots. So, for the second DVT, it had to have been the pill. I was on YAZ and joined that class action lawsuit against the makers of YAZ a few years later. We won. The amount awarded paid off most of my debt. Which I was grateful for because I was laid off at the time and had accrued debt due to having to use my credit card more.
I’m curious – have you been tested for the Factor V gene mutation? It’s also called Leiden Thrombophilia and a pretty significant percentage of people have it. It predisposes one to clotting. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/factor-v-leiden/basics/definition/con-20032637
I have been! Everything had come back clear and I’m not predisposed to clotting. Now, my dad and his mom both died from brain aneurysms. I’m wondering if there could be that connection. I have to get an MRI done every 7 – 10 years to make sure I don’t have one developing in my brain.
Great tips for readers. DVT is growing as the number of patients is increasing.
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